YOUNGSTOWN, OH -- With the game knotted up at 3-3 entering the final 20 minutes, the Youngstown Phantoms (21-16-1-3, 46 points) exploded for three goals in the deciding period, downing the Lincoln Stars 6-3 Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.
“Great result by the guys,” said Phantoms Head Coach Brad Patterson. “Christian Stoever was good in the net…he really stood in there and made some big stops as the game went. I felt like we had a pretty good start. I felt we built all game.”
Lincoln struck first, breaking the ice just 4:43 into the game, and in fact scored on two of their first three shots. Ryan Carmichael flicked a wrist shot from the right point that Phantoms’ netminder Christian Stoever (22 saves) never saw, and the shot found twine, putting the Stars ahead 1-0. Lincoln doubled their lead with a power play goal 40 seconds later. Tristan Ashbrook fired a one-timer from the top of the right circle past Stoever for a 2-0 Stars lead.
Youngstown answered back later in the period with their own pair of quick goals. Trevor Kuntar shoveled a power play goal past Samuel Hlavaj (31 saves) at 13:25 for his 12th of the season, cutting the Lincoln lead in half at 2-1. Matthew Barnaby tied the game 55 seconds later, poking home the rebound of Craig Needham’s shot as the puck sat free in the blue paint.
Lincoln grabbed the lead back 7:35 into the second period on Ashbrook’s second goal of the game, but Joey Abate tied the game for the Phantoms at 13:57, firing a wrister from the right dot over the shoulder of Hlavaj for his ninth of the season, knotting the game at 3-3.
Youngstown grabbed their first lead of the game 5:33 into the third period with a power play goal. Jack Malone’s blind-backhand pass from below the red line to the mouth of the crease found Brett Murray’s stick, and Murray fired it home to give Youngstown a 4-3 lead. They doubled their lead four minutes later when Dalton Messina escaped the penalty box and went on a breakaway, beating Hlavaj with a short-side wrist shot for his fifth goal of the campaign, giving the Phantoms a 5-3 lead. Murray capped off the game with an empty-net goal at 18:44 for his 26th goal of the season. Murray leads the USHL with 26 goals on the season and is one point behind Chicago’s Nick Abruzzese for the overall scoring lead. “Brett is very good, and he’s hard to play against,” said Patterson. “He makes people around him better. He leads by example…he’s been very, very good for us.”
The win allowed the Phantoms to stay in sole possession of third place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference, still two points ahead of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Youngstown wraps up its homestand next weekend with a pair of games Friday and Saturday night against the U17’s. Puck drop both nights is scheduled for 7:05pm Eastern and the games will be broadcast on Western Reserve Radio and HockeyTV.
By the Numbers
Shots – 37
Saves – 22
Power Play – 1/5
Penalty Kill – 2/3
Goals – Abate, Barnaby, Kuntar, Murray (2)
Assists – Barnaby, DeLuca, DeMelis, Dobay, Farrell, MacEachern, Malone (2), Messina (2), Needham, Robertson